Over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in the United States for drunk driving in 2010, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In Idaho alone, nearly 200 people died as a result of drunk driving accidents. For this reason, law enforcement is doing all they can to pull drunk drivers from the roads before they cause yet another unnecessary death. Here are some things you should know if you are ever involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, or if you are considering getting behind the wheel of an automobile while intoxicated.
When a drunk crashes into you
- Do not approach them. They are not rational and may take the accident a step further by assaulting you or running from the scene. Some people get happy when they drink; others get very angry. Neither of them is observing reality correctly.
- Call 911 from your vehicle, or flag down another car.
- Be sure to ask the officer to do a Breathalyzer test on the drunk driver. Although it should be an automatic procedure, do not leave this vital evidence to chance. You will not be able to prove he or she was drunk if there is not on-the-scene proof from the officer in charge. Do not leave the scene until you are certain the results are logged into the report.
- Take photos or video of your own, if possible. Especially if the drunk driver is staggering or slurring, photographed proof will help your case when you sue for damages. Remember not to get close enough to be assaulted.
- Cooperate with the officer. Do not try to take over the investigation, and stay within your bounds.
- Call your attorney as soon as possible. Other than giving a brief statement to police, you should have a lawyer present whenever you can. This way, he or she can remember to ask the right questions and get the best information while you are shaken from the accident.
If you are considering driving with even a little alcohol in your system
- Impaired judgment can kill someone. The other drivers deserve a safe passage. Even if you think you are fine, your reaction times will be slower, and your perception will be blurred. Do not drive when you have been drinking!
- Drunk drivers are labeled for life. If you have a drunk driving accident at any time in your life, that conviction follows you. Even when it goes off your driving record, you will always know that your negligence took another life.
- You could suffer bodily injury forever. Sometimes drunk people are so relaxed they do not get hurt in an accident. Other times are different; many drunk drivers suffer great pain, loss of limb, or even paralysis as a result of their conduct.
Finding out the other driver who caused your car accident was intoxicated can be extremely disturbing. The word accident may mean that they didn’t intend to cause a crash, but when intoxication is involved, there is a good chance that the accident would not have happened had the driver handed over his keys..
If you need an attorney to help you recover, call Litster Frost and get help now. Our firm is dedicated to holding irresponsible drivers accountable for the losses they cause others and to making sure the insurance companies never undercut a rightful settlement.
Idaho Drunk Driving Statistics
Each year, drunk drivers cause nearly 1,500 crashes in Idaho. These crashes result in the following.
- Nearly 100 fatalities.
- About 200 serious injuries.
- About 300 visible injuries.
- About 500 possible injuries not immediately visible.
Drunk driving accidents make up six percent of all traffic crashes but account for eight percent of crashes with injuries and 40 percent of crashes with fatalities.
Does It Matter If The Drunk Driver Is Criminally Charged?
The Boise Police, Ada County Sheriff, and Idaho State Police / Highway Patrol all work tirelessly to reduce drunk driving. While getting pulled over while driving over limit in Idaho means an almost guaranteed arrest, an arrest is even more likely when a drunk driver causes a crash that injures someone.
A drunk driving conviction can make it easier to prove a drunk driving accident claim. The fact that a driver was driving drunk helps demonstrate the element of negligence that’s needed to prove a personal injury claim. Criminal convictions have a much higher burden of proof than civil cases, so when drunk driving is proven in criminal court, it is rarely questioned in civil court.
If a drunk driver is arrested but not is charged, has their charges dismissed, or is found not guilty, you can still win a drunk driving claim against them. Often, a criminal case cannot proceed because of technicalities that don’t apply in civil court or because there isn’t enough evidence to meet the higher criminal burden of proof. However, you can still introduce evidence showing the other driver was driving drunk in civil court.
Similarly, you can also bring a drunk driving claim against a driver who was never arrested. For example, the driver might have sobered up to just below the legal limit by the time the police arrived, but you may have witnesses or video showing that they were stumbling around and slurring their speech immediately after the crash.
Will Restitution From A Criminal Case Cover Your Losses?
If the drunk driver who caused your accident is criminally convicted, the judge may order them to pay restitution to you. This restitution is intended to cover your medical costs and property damage but is often not enough. Criminal restitution proceedings are often a rushed afterthought of a trial, and you generally won’t have the same opportunity to thoroughly explain all of your losses as you would in a civil trial.
Additionally, if a criminal appeal is won on a technicality, you may lose the restitution you were awarded. Finally, criminal cases take time and waiting to see what happens could jeopardize the statute of limitations on your civil claim or make it harder for you to find evidence that you need.
How Are Drunk Driving Accidents Different?
Drunk driving accident claims may seem like they’d be easier to prove, but there are two things you need to keep in mind. First, you still need to prove that the drunk driver’s impaired driving caused the crash. If the drunk driver was properly stopped at a stoplight and you rear-ended them, the fact that they were drunk doesn’t remove your fault.
Second, because drunk driving accidents are more severe on average, it’s more likely that you’ll need to be fully compensated to avoid financial difficulty. At the same time, the drunk driver may be facing a criminal conviction, loss of employment, and resulting financial troubles of their own. To ensure that you’re able to recover, you must act swiftly to bring and properly protect your claim.
Schedule A Consultation
To learn more about how to bring a drunk driving claim and make sure you receive the full compensation you’re legally entitled to, talk to one of our injury lawyers today. The initial consultation is free and we only take a fee if you’re able to recover. Contact us now to find out what your case is worth. Contact our Boise based firm to get started working with us anywhere in Idaho.┬á